Sarah Perriam heard a story recently about a group of young shepherds working in the tailing pens on a property in the North Island who started discussing the recently launched Will To Live campaign.

They began talking about their own issues, and then the boss said if ever any of them needed to talk about their worries, then they could go to him.

Ms Perriam is a co-founder of the Will To Live Foundation and said that was an example of one of the reasons she and the other co-founders launched the campaign - to encourage more young people to ''speak up''.

Now she and the other founders intend to plan a winter trip around New Zealand to hold a series of ''Speak Up'' events to put out the message it is OK to talk to someone if you are feeling depressed.


Her sister, Lincoln University student Elle Perriam, of Lowburn, was devastated when her boyfriend, Will Gregory, took his own life at the age of 20 last December.

Several months later she, Sarah, Will's brother Sam and his best friend Adam Williams started the Will To Live, campaign to provide support for young rural people aged 20 to 30 who were feeling desperate and isolated.

That age group has one of the higher suicide rates in New Zealand.

Ms Perriam said her sister had finished Lincoln University for the year and was working on a sheep stud in North Canterbury.

She had Will's black huntaway Jess with her, who who was loving her time on the farm.

Jess is the campaign's mascot.

''Jess has been amazing and has been in television studios and on planes,'' Ms Perriam said.

They launched Will To Live during the Hunterville Huntaway Festival in October.


''There was an amazing turnout,'' she said.

''The number of stories we heard of people travelling to get there was probably the most humbling.

''There was one family who heard about the event the night before, and drove up from Marlborough to be there.

''[A family member] said his brother committed suicide a week after Will did last year.

''They wanted to be there to be part of it.

''It was incredible.''

The campaign was launched by a mass dog ''bark up'' at the event.

She had been surprised and amazed at the response the campaign had received.

They raised more than $18,500 from a Pledgeme page and also received other donations, as well as support from industry groups and companies, including the free use of a Holden Colorado for Elle for a year.

The money will be used for the tour.

Where to get help:
Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.